It’s about time 2015 coughed up a good movie and that sentence right there should alert you that I already enjoyed this flick.
Matthew Vaughn is probably one of the most consistent writer/directors in the business because he has never made a film that has been critically derided before. Of course, this is the same guy who propelled Daniel Craig’s rise to stardom and also gave us the best X-Men movie with First Class, so going into this movie I was expecting quality. And I was not disappointed in the slightest.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is a tribute to old school spy films that is based off the comic book by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. Like many of Millar’s adaptations to the screen, Kick-Ass (another Vaughn film) being one of them, the movie shares almost nothing with its source material, and I don’t mind it at all because Millar’s works probably wouldn’t translate very well to the screen because they can get a little edgy. In this adaptation, though, Colin Firth plays a spy in an organization called the Kingsmen, one where its members have the ability to be ruthless assassins by utilizing various guns and gadgets at their disposal, but also are very gentlemanly at the same time. Firth recruits a young man named Eggsy and proceeds to train him to be a Kingsman, because he feels that he’s paying a debt to Eggsy’s father, who was a Kingsman at one point but was killed in action. The movie follows Eggsy’s exploits as he goes through selection from the Kingsmen elders and eventually gets worked up to stop an evil mastermind from destroying the entire world as he knows it.
The James Bond similarities aren’t meant to be satirizing or parodying the series in any way, but to pay homage to an underutilized genre by ramping everything up in R-rated fashion. Like many Bond films, Kingsman features deadly gadgets, modified cars, notable henchmen, and a secret hideout, that are all tongue-in-cheek references to the series. Point is, if you’re a fan of the classic Bond films, you are undoubtedly going to have a fun time watching this film.
What is the best part of the movie, I have to say, is the casting. If Colin Firth as an ass-kicking spy sounds a little far-fetched to you, then put those worries out of your mind. Firth embodies the gentleman aspect of his role very well but when the chips are down and he gets into the thick of things, he is flat-out awesome when he is beating up a horde of people in a church set to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird.” I promise you that scene actually is in the film, and the fact that he does most of his own stunts in Kingsman is quite an eye-opener from someone who had previously played the king of England in The King’s Speech.
Taron Egerton plays Eggsy, the main protagonist in Kingsman, and as our wide-eyed audience window, he was brilliant. Kingsman is Egerton’s first real project and I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes more mainstream after this. As a troubled youth, he is crass, vulgar, but also funny. He’s an incredibly likeable character and Egerton gives Eggsy a vulnerability that helps us accept his predicaments when everything looks like it’s all going wrong for him. Plus, he looks quite dapper in a suit. Egerton successfully pulls off the look of a hoodlum and a gentleman all in the same film and the transformation is very grin-inducing when the time comes.
It was also nice to see other well-established actors in this film that embody the very idea of “British Class.” Mark Strong and Michael Caine are welcome sights to the film and their presence just makes the film all the more awesome. It was also nice to see Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) in a rare on-screen appearance for the first quarter of the film, but we’ll be seeing more of him in Episode VII so I consider this a teaser. But, the most hilarious character happens to be the villain, and Samuel L. Jackson kills it in this role. As a technology mogul, Jackson wears very trendy clothing throughout Kingsman, often sporting a jacket and an off-center baseball cap (but in one scene he does wear a penguin suit complete with a top hat, something you’d never guess that Jackson would ever wear). However, Jackson gives his character a lisp as a defining trait (“Thith is a dope assth hat!”) which is so hilarious that you can’t help but smile every time Jackson opens his mouth. It seems that he’s enjoying the role very much and that helps the audience as well.
The fight scenes utilize several practical stunts that is easy to follow (which means well-utilized shaky cam) and exceptional choreography. You are not going to be bored watching this film because it relies more on bare-knuckle fist fights and slick gunplay rather than resort to an explosion every two seconds. Of course, some of the CGI can get a bit iffy at times, but it’s an easily forgivable fault because the digital effects are few and far between.
The music is also amazing as well. Kingsman opens with a great Dire Straits song and the “Free Bird” sequence remains the film’s highlight moment. Henry Jackman (Big Hero 6, X-Men: First Class) and an assistant compose the mainly orchestral soundtrack for the film. Jackman seems to be making an effort to shy away from his synthetic scores that so marred his career from 2013 to mid-2014. With the score for Kingsman utilizing a beefy brass theme and energetic action music, I hope he continues on this current trend so that he can craft scores like this in the future.
Since this film already opened in the UK some time ago, it already made back four times its budget, so I’d say the prospects of a sequel are solid. And that’s not a bad thing because I want to see more of this world and the characters. The acting was exceptional, the stunts were amazing, and I just can’t get enough spy movies in my life. The only gripe I really have is that more people are going to see the abysmal Fifty Shades of Grey this weekend instead of this movie. It really is showing something about our society today when more people would rather line up to see a helpless female character in situations that revolve around soft-core pornography rather than this well-polished, funny, movie. If you have even a shred of taste, do yourself a favor and watch Kingsman instead. You will walk away thankful that you didn’t waste your money.
I know that I sure was.
Final Score: 90/100